Quirky is what Citroen do best, and the new Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback is a testament to that. Its distinctive but attractive looks complement a comfortable cabin, and the car is ideal for families who want something a bit different.
Stylish and practical, it’s an entirely new car, but don’t let that bother you – Citroen have been producing cars like this for quite some time.
Citroen have been making cars since the end of the First World War and their name lit up the Eiffel Tower for ten years over the 1920s and 1930s. Find out more about this iconic French brand in our brief history of Citroen.
OSV takes a closer look at what it’s all about with our 2018 Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback review.
Overview of the Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback
On the Road
Although it looks rather sporty, its looks are misleading. This isn’t a sporty car in any way shape or form.
That said, there’s no denying that it’s easy to drive. It’s got lots of road manners, and it’s armed with enough grip so that you can throw it into corners with a bit of enthusiasm.
However, you’ll soon realise that you can’t push it too hard. When you do, its tyres start to make a horrible squealing noise, presumably because they’re losing purchase on the road.
Overall, the car is predictable and offers no surprises – which isn’t exactly a bad thing.
Body lean, meanwhile, is kept to a minimum, while the accurate and light steering ensures that it behaves well in the towns and cities.
It’s a bit higher than the C3 Picasso that it replaces, and this – along with softer springs – boosts its ride quality. Of course, potholes will still present a problem, but this is by far one of the smoothest cars in this class.
In terms of its engines, there is just the one diesel on offer. This is a 1.6-litre Blue HDi engine that’s already been seen in the Citroen C4 Cactus. It’s a small engine but it’s one of the best at this size.
It’s available in two separate guises, with the smaller of the two developing 98bhp. This version has a 0-62 time of 12.8 seconds and might be too underpowered for most buyers.
Adding more meat to the bone is a gutsier 118bhp variant that has a 0-62 time of 10.6 seconds. It’s an accomplished engine that’s nice and smooth. However, its gearbox is a bit imprecise, which will frustrate.
Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback Interior, Design and Build
Citroen have worked hard to make this one of the best cabins in this class, and it has the “lounge” feeling they’ve been trying to evoke.
Indeed, it feels super relaxed and the cabin is a very pleasant place to spend your time on the road. Comfort is assured over long distances thanks to long-travel suspension, while the wide seats may remind you of an armchair!
Citroen are also letting you customise your Aircross, and to this end are offering an array of “Ambiences” that let you pick from various colours and themes. The fact that you have these choices open to you is one of the things that makes the car stand out.
The dashboard, meanwhile, will be familiar to anyone who has sat inside the Citroen C3 standard model. It’s clean and tidy, with a central infotainment screen dominating proceedings.
How upmarket the car feels and looks though, depends on which Ambience you choose.
Is the Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback practical? It’s very accommodating to families, with its roof rails and versatile loading space. Moreover, it’s roomy enough to treat four adults well, but also compact enough to make parking a piece of cake.
Headroom can be a bit tight for rear passengers, but it’s really a minor complaint.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 410-litres, which is decent. Slide the rear seats forward and it increases to 520-litres while folding the rear seats increases it to 1,289-litres.
Are Citroen cars reliable? Read our unbiased assessment of their range to find out more.
Equipment and Safety of the Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback
The C3 is cheaper than a lot of its rivals, and while this has one obvious advantage, one disadvantage is that standard kit isn’t as generous.
For example, the entry-level model misses out on alloys, even if it gets automatic headlights, air conditioning and Bluetooth.
The Feel model adds alloys (16”), LED daytime running lights, and a seven-inch display. It also gets a body styling kit.
The Flair model rounds things off with diamond-cut alloys, the brand’s navigation software, keyless entry, rear parking sensors, twin-zone air conditioning and a contrasting roof colour.
In terms of safety, the C3 Aircross was only recently crash tested by Euro NCAP and bagged all five stars. Its standard safety kit includes a colour head-up display (a very useful driver aid), traffic sign recognition, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning.
Costs of the Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback
Prices for the new car start at £14,350 and rise to £19,325. For more information on our leasing deals, you can check out our page here.
In terms of its running costs, the 98bhp variant of the 1.6-litre BlueHDI diesel engine can return over 70mpg on a good day, while the bigger 118bhp variant of the same engine is good for 68.9mpg. Its emissions, meanwhile, are pegged at 108g/km of CO2, and it has a BiK rating of 23%. The 98bhp variant has a BiK rating of 22%.
Insurance-wise, while there are no official details for this, we expect the entry-level model to sit in group 9 out of 50.
Pros and Cons of the Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback
No other car on the road looks like the Aircross.
Cheap to buy and run, it’s perfect for young families.
Smart and snug, the cabin is a great place to spend your time on the road.
Cabin can feel basic
If you opt for the entry-level model and pick a low-key ambience, the cabin is a bit sparse and quality is mixed.
Not a lot of fun
That it isn’t much fun is a bit of a shame because it looks like it would be more entertaining.
Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback vs Renault Captur vs Vauxhall Crossland X
Let’s see how the car fares against its rivals in the comparison section of our 2018 Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback review.
Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback vs Renault Captur
The new Renault Captur is one of the most popular cars in this class. That’s hardly surprising – it looks great, it’s cheap to run, and it boasts a really usable cabin.
It’s not too shabby on the road either, although its driving experience is better described as “capable” than fun. Its light steering means that it excels in the towns and cities, but the steering isn’t communicative enough for winding country roads.
The car is comfortable enough, but there are better cars in this class if you want to be entertained.
In terms of its engines, there’s just the one diesel available. This is a 1.5-litre dCi unit that develops a modest 89bhp. It’s a tad on the slow side and not as comfortable as the petrol options, but it performs well on the motorway and makes perfect sense if you’re a high mileage driver.
Running costs? We don’t have any official economy figures for the sole diesel engine yet, but emissions are pegged at 138g/km of CO2. This gives the car a BiK rating of 32%. The engine does come with an Eco button which can boost fuel economy by as much as 10%.
Inside, the Captur treats you fairly well when you’re on the move. Comfort is good for a car of this type and insulation is reasonable. A height adjustable wheel and driver’s seat further ensure comfort for the driver.
The cabin as a whole has improved since last time, with Renault adding more soft-touch materials. That said, it still can’t match its rivals for interior quality, and it doesn’t have the funky customisation options that the Citroen has.
Its dashboard comes with a brand new two-tone covering that enhances the way it looks, while standard kit on the mid-range Iconic model includes lashings of chrome and tinted rear windows.
Is the Renault Captur practical? It’s more spacious than the Clio on which it’s based, and rear legroom is particularly good. The rear seats can slide back and forth for extra space, while the fact that the car is so compact means that it’s easy to park.
Space up front is good and there are plenty of storage solutions dotted around the place. The glovebox is smaller than the one in the rest of Europe, though.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 380-litres but can be extended to 455-litres by pushing the rear seats forward.
Citroen – £14,350 – £19,325
Renault – £15,615 – £24,025
Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback vs Vauxhall Crossland X
The new Vauxhall Crossland X is both comfortable and practical. But while those two attributes will appeal to families, a rather dull driving experience will be seen as a weakness.
True, the Citroen isn’t the sportiest or most engaging car to drive in the world, but here it feels as though Vauxhall have given no thought whatsoever to the driver.
It’s a tall car, and this means wind noise is problematic. It also causes the car to sway when you’re moving at speed.
On the plus side, the steering is at least fast and responsive. On the whole, though, the Crossland X is reasonably comfortable, but far from agile and very much underwhelming.
In terms of its engines, the sole diesel is a 1.6-litre unit that’s available with either 98 or 118bhp. The least powerful of the two won’t have enough oomph for most buyers, and it’s also a noisy old thing.
We prefer the more expensive 118bhp variant. It adds another gear to the 98’s five-speed manual and feels smoother.
Running costs? Quite a lot separates the two diesel variants here, with the 98bhp engine able to return an impressive 78.5mpg on a good day. That said, the 118bhp impresses us too and can manage returns of 70.6mpg economy.
Inside, Vauxhall have gone for a sensible, restrained look and feel to the car. It’s all family-friendly stuff, but while that has its advantages, all the greys and blacks are a lot more sombre than Citroen’s imaginative customisable options.
Quality-wise, the Crossland doesn’t do too badly, with soft-touch materials used here and there. The gear lever looks a bit too thick, though, and it won’t be long until you notice an array of harder plastics.
Is the Vauxhall Crossland X practical? This is the area where it excels. It’s spacious, with headroom and knee room plentiful in the rear, and it’s ergonomically sound. For example, the central armrest is so well positioned that your hand lines up perfectly with the gear lever.
The glovebox is a bit smaller than we’d like but other than that there are plenty of storage solutions on offer to ensure your family keeps the car nice and tidy.
The boot, meanwhile, measures 410-litres. Fold the rear seats and you can extend it to 1,255-litres.
Vauxhall – £16,835 – £22,525
Verdict of our Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback Review
This is probably one of the most likeable cars on the market, and there really isn’t much to dislike about it. It even looks friendly!
Relaxed, practical, comfortable and customisable, it’s perfect for families who want to stand out from the crowd. And with a range of affordable engines, there isn’t much stopping you from giving the new Citroen C3 Aircross Diesel Hatchback a go.